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Writer: Tim Vandergrift

59 result(s).

Kit Winemaking Q&A

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Here are some of the best wine kit-related questions we’ve received from readers. Now, on to the questions! QUESTION: A kit I received as a gift instructs me to start fermentation at a specific gravity (SG) of 1.048 to 1.052. I have made a number of their kits before but usually the starting gravity is

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Troubleshooting Wine Kit Aroma

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Before we finish shooting smelly troubles in wine kits we need to do a quick recap of the basics of troubleshooting: Almost all of these issues can be avoided if you carefully follow the instructions that came with your wine kit. Kits sometimes have procedures that contradict accepted techniques for fresh grape/fresh juice winemaking. There

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Troubleshooting Visual Defects in Wine Kits

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The old truism of the commercial wine industry is that people drink with their eyes first. This is natural since you’ll see your glass as it’s coming to your lips. No matter how a wine tastes, if it’s hazy, cloudy or (even worse!) lumpy, it’s not going to please the drinker. Wines made from kits

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Yeast Trials With Wine Kits

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Just because your wine kit comes with a certain yeast, that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with other options.

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Unoaked Wine Kits

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Not using oak on wine is a time-honored tradition for many varietals and styles, and often for good reason. There are few things as disconcerting and deeply weird as a heavily oaked Riesling, and few rosé wines show better with a heavy layer of deeply toasted oak covering their finish. Oak just doesn’t make sense

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Quick Drinking Wine Kits

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In this article I’ll be discussing “vinfanticide,” which is wines to drink on bottling day (or before). And in the next issue I’ll cover super-early drinking wines (under three months of age). I know that there are a few kit winemakers reading this article who just got a shocked look on their face: “You can

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Young Wine Kits: Wine Kits

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  Back in the April-May 2002 issue of WineMaker I wrote an article about picking the right wine kit. The McGuffin of the article was the idea that there was a right kit for every winemaker, based on what time-frame they were looking to drink it in: obviously, if you’re pressed for time, most super-premium

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Rhône in a Box: Wine Kits

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A good winemaker understands not only his or her grapes and where and how they are grown, but also his or her techniques of elaboration and the greater context of the wine he is making.  A winemaker will allow the wine to express itself without trying to mold it against its true nature, intervening only

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Enjoying Dessert Wine Kits

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Drinking Port To my palate, Port is toothsome — it somehow seems to satisfy and delight all on its own. Back when I smoked a pipe (and nothing looks dopier than someone under the age of 40 smoking a pipe, let me tell you) I thought it was the perfect accompaniment. Not that I’m recommending

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Sparkling Wine From Kits

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 Ahh, glorious Champagne: our companion at celebrations and important events, it christens our ships, welcomes our New Year, and gently helps the caviar and oysters along the path to culinary nirvana. Sparkling wine has no peer, and you can make it at home if you’ve got a little adventure in your soul and a DIY

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Rioja

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Rioja has a long and interesting history — involving war, geographic isolation, restrictions on irrigation of vineyards and, of all things, inside-out pigs. Now, thanks to modernization, Rioja is reaching new heights. Welcome to another in a series of articles about countries and growing regions for wine. Previously WineMaker has featured the styles of Burgundy,

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Maintaining Fermentation Temperatures

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When Ray Charles and Betty Carter sang the definitive version of Frank Loesser’s song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” it’s a pretty sure bet that home winemaking was the last thing on their


Oak Alternatives

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A song to the oak, the brave old oak, Who hath ruled in the greenwood long; Here’s health and renown to his broad green crown, And his fifty arms so strong. There’s


Closures: Wine Kits

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I recently had the opportunity to visit Portugal, magical land of Mateus, Port and home of 80% of the world’s cork supply. While it was a pleasure trip, I had time to visit cork forests, cork factories, Port lodges and the vineyards of the Douro and upper Douro — pleasure is my business, after all.

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Understanding the Different Sizes of Wine Kits

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“Quantity has a quality all of its own.” -R K Ratch Someone once said, “good things come in small packages.” I’m pretty sure this was a shopkeeper who sold very small consumer


Big Kits

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“Quantity has a quality all of its own.” -R K Ratch Someone once said, “good things come in small packages.” I’m pretty sure this was a shopkeeper who sold very small consumer products, or a packaging company specializing in teeny cardboard boxes. While it’s true that size is not necessarily an accurate gauge of relative

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Degassing Wine Kits with a Vacuum Pump

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What could vacuums have to do with wine kits? While there have been times when a wet/dry vacuum would have been very helpful in my wine cellar, there is a specific benefit a bit of vacuum can have for kit winemakers. In commercial wineries, it usually takes a year or more to get wine ready

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Alternate Degassing for Wine Kits

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What could vacuums have to do with wine kits? While there have been times when a wet/dry vacuum would have been very helpful in my wine cellar, there is a specific benefit a bit of vacuum can have for kit winemakers. Regular readers will recall my article “Degassing Your Kit Wines,” in the October-November 2005

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Amarone-Style Wine Kits

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Most wine drinkers who have been exposed to Amarone probably consider it to be another one of Italy’s signature wine styles — perhaps the most brutally powerful and distinctively flavorful, but one


Making Port-Style Wine Kits

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“Port is not for the very young, the vain and the active. It is the comfort of age and the companion of the scholar and the philosopher.” – Evelyn Waugh Drinking Port can


How Kit Manufacturers Choose Yeast

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Wine yeast — or Saccharomyces, which is Latin for ‘sugar-fungus’ — converts sugar into alcohol. While alcoholic fermentation is the most important aspect of winemaking, yeast does more than just bubble out happy-juice. It also produces compounds that influence flavor, aroma, body, structure and the finish of wine. Wine kit manufacturers are among the heaviest

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Entering Wine Competitions

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You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day.” –Marian Wright Edelman I’ve always liked Marian’s sentiment. There’s nothing that says you have to win, but there’s nothing better in life than trying your best — but when your efforts are rewarded, all the better! Of

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Aging Your Kit Wines

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Discussions of wine aging range well into the past, from the biblical story of Luke and putting new wine into old skins, to the ancient Roman interest in Falernian wine, which could


Wine Tasting 101

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Most of us make wine because we like to drink it. The drinking part is easy to master: just tilt your head back and swallow. The tasting part, however, is a little more complicated. There is a lot of mystic hoo-hah written about wine tasting, with tales of tasters so accomplished that they can not

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7 Great Wine Kit Tips

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Ah, the wine kit — is there any invention of mankind that has contributed more happiness and pleasure than the simple box of delicious juice, clarifiers, stabilizers and thoughtful, well-written instructions? Well,


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